Before You Get to Court
Review your documents carefully for the time, date and
department of the
Please dress appropriately. In the courtroom, judges make decisions
which may significantly impact the lives of the parties involved. If your
attire is a distraction to others or diminishes
the seriousness of the
proceedings, you may be asked to leave and to return
to Court properly dressed. You may not wear clothing with obscene or offensive
Please plan to arrive at the Courthouse early. You may encounter delays
finding a parking space or at the security screening. If you are late,
the Court may call your case
and make a decision before you arrive.
In addition, the Judge or the clerk
often advises the audience about
courtroom procedures and
the parties’ rights before calling the
first case. You may not hear these
important advisements if you do not arrive on time.
Do not bring weapons into the courthouse.
This includes knives of any
While you are waiting for your hearing date,
it is important to prepare
your case as thoroughly as you can.
Double-check your facts.
Ask important witnesses to attend the hearing.
Gather all of the evidence you think you may need.
Prepare any needed charts or other exhibits.
Decide what you will say to the judge.
On the day of your hearing, schedule enough time
to get to the court,
allowing for possible
transportation or parking delays.
Try to arrive early so you can locate the proper courtroom.
There are three courtrooms or “Departments.”
If you are unsure, please check the posted calendars
or with the Clerk's Office.
Enter the courtroom quietly, as court may already be in session.
Turn off your cell phone or other mobile
Do not bring any food or drink into the courtroom. It
is not allowed.
There may be other cases set for hearing at the same time as
Each case on the calendar will be heard by the judge.
The court will call roll to see which parties are present
for their hearings.
Listen carefully so that
you'll know what to do. Everyone who will participate in the hearings
will be asked to take an oath promising to tell the truth.
The court will then hear each case. Cases are not always called
order listed on the court calendar, so be sure to stay in the courtroom.
When the judge is ready to hear your case, the clerk or judge will
names of all parties in the case.
You, the other parties, and any witnesses, should then go forward
to the table in front of the judge. Plaintiffs generally sit at the table to the
right and defendants to the left.
You should address the judge as either, “Your Honor” or
Be brief in making your points. Do your best to be objective,
polite, and respectful of the other party and the judge.
Do not raise your voice or make insulting remarks about the other party
or any witness, During the hearing, speak to the judge and not to the other party.
Most importantly, be truthful in everything you say.
Do not interrupt the judge or the other party while they are
All comments should be addressed to the judge. You should not
in a conversation with the other party while the
judge hears your case.
If you have any papers, photographs or other evidence to show
you will typically have to show them to the other
When it is your turn to show the court your evidence, do not
judge’s bench unless specifically asked. The
courtroom bailiff will usually take the evidence from you and hand it to the
For More Information
Information about specific types of cases, such as Small Claims,
Landlord- Tenant or Family Law, can be found in the “Self-Help” section of the
California Courts website
The Department of Consumer Affairs
The Small Claims Court: A Guide to its Practical Use